Rep. Mark Pafford, D-West Palm Beach
Education: Bachelor’s degree, public administration, Florida International University.
Family: Married, two children.
Work: Consultant for nonprofit organizations.
When and where did you first arrive in Florida? Born in Miami-Dade County.
First job and what you learned from it: I worked for the Youth Conservation Corps restoring plants to hammocks. I was basically digging holes. I enjoyed the environmental issues, but I also just enjoyed the hard work.
First political job and what you learned: I was 19 or 20 and I drove (now U.S. Sen.) Bill Nelson around for his campaign for governor in 1989. I learned that sometimes the candidates that seem to be running for one office end up doing something else. U.S. senators generally get to do what they want. And I’m talking about Lawton Chiles. Nelson recently told me, “You’re the most successful driver I’ve ever had.”
Best political advice you ever received: Be honest.
What do you tell young people about government? Take every advantage of your right to be involved in government, whether that’s taking time to read the paper or watch the news. Make sure you carry through and actually vote for people that best represent you.
What do you see ahead for Florida? I see a continued existence of battling for dollars in a state that refuses to acknowledge that instead of a few million people, there are 19 million people. We need to build a better revenue system for not only people but for businesses. Currently, we have short-term goals, but we have no plan in the state for five to 10 years out.
Favorite smartphone app: Palm Beach Post Breaking News. I check that constantly. Also Twitter and Facebook. I use those frequently to stay in touch with constituents.
Do you own a gun? No.
What kind of car do you drive? 2005 Grand Marquis.
Do you text while you drive? Occasionally. I’m guilty.
Favorite vacation spot: I haven’t taken a vacation in 11 years, but if I were to take a vacation, it would probably be camping in the middle of the Everglades.
What’s on your iTunes? I listen to a wide variety ranging from The Beatles to Green Day. I really enjoy the soundtrack to “Brother Where Art Thou?” But I’m pretty much a product of the ’80s.
Thoughts on becoming the House Democratic Caucus policy leader? My only goal has been to represent my district the best I can. I’ve spent a lot of time trying to be the best I can at being a legislator and taking time to learn an awful lot. So maybe that work ethic can be credited. But I just want to be part of a team of people that want to make Florida better.
It’s a little intimidating because of the people who had it before. I’m not a college professor. I’m not an attorney. And I wonder if I can keep up but so far I’ve been able to. The first award I ever really got was in high school. I didn’t make the soccer team as a freshman in high school. They cut me. But I got on the team because one of the guys got caught smoking pot. As a senior, I got the coach’s trophy. I only played about half my games because of a knee injury yet still got the award. The only thing I really ever had going for me is that I really try to work hard and understand things and not get caught flat-footed.